Is your conversion strategy working for you or against you?
Are sales climbing so much that you need to expand operations just to keep up with the demand?
If not… why not?
I think I know the answer to that question, and I’m going to give you the fruit of my years of experience working with ecommerce clients below.
First I’d like to consider the two primary reasons your current conversion optimization strategy may not be working as well as it could. Then we’ll outline the five key questions that will help you go about getting it fixed – pronto.
Poor Sales Are a Conversion Strategy Problem
To determine the solution, it’s wise to take a close look at the problem. Once the sticking point is identified correctly, the way to get unstuck often becomes apparent.
Like the tiger crouching in the bush, here’s something so obvious that digital marketing managers often miss it: disappointing or sluggish sales are always a conversion rate optimization problem.Disappointing or sluggish sales are always a conversion rate optimization problem Click To Tweet
It’s easy to pin the blame on your dismal pay-per-click campaigns, the advertising copy, lousy design, ineffective sales tactics, low visitor rates… the list goes on and on and on. But all of those potential revenue blockers are under the conversion rate optimization banner.
As a business grows and the needs of the business magnify, someone has to remember the fundamentals. One possible optimization strategy definition is this:
Conversion rate optimization is concerned with making sure the entire path – from prospect awareness, to the eventual purchase, to customer retention – is easy to follow and simple to navigate.
Sounds simple, right?
That’s the problem with conversion rate optimization. It sounds like something every business will naturally do—something so obvious it probably needs no special attention.
That’s more than wrong. It can be fatal to a company. After all, sluggish conversions equal sluggish sales. No business can be lackluster and stay competitive for long.
Tactical Focus is a Conversion Strategy Problem
When the pain gets great enough, every digital marketer worth his or her salt will step back from the myopic focus on tactics, pull the strategic plan out of the drawer, blow off the dust, and think hard about what’s going wrong.
You’re using the latest tools, you’re listening to all the gurus, you’re active on the right forums, and you’re attending as many conferences (online and off) as you can fit into your crazy schedule.
Once you determine there’s something wrong with your conversion strategy – something you just can’t seem to put a finger on with the resources at your command – you may bite the bullet and begin looking for a conversion rate optimization consultant.
So far, so good. You’re admitted there’s a problem you’ve not been able to fix with your current resources, and you’re willing to get a fresh set of eyes on the problem.
Here’s where the second (and most dangerous) pit lies. Once you’ve decided to trust someone else to guide you, it’s entirely possible that person or team will waste precious time and lead you in the wrong direction. That can not only be disheartening, but downright disastrous for your business.
I’ve seen companies suffer needlessly from conversion rate optimization gone wrong, but I love it when those ‘last-gaspers’ grab hold of The Good’s Conversion Growth Program™ and make it through the storm.
That’s the best part of this business: seeing companies turn around and get back in the game – stronger than ever – or those clients who are doing well but accelerate growth by engaging The Good.
But All CRO specialists and all CRO methods are not equal
It happens all the time: companies get burned by someone claiming to be a conversion rate optimization specialist – but who has neither the experience nor the knowledge to back it up.
Most will list it as a bullet point on their website along with other digital marketing tactics such as SEO, SEM, social and email marketing. Some may flaunt a ‘certification’ gained from paying for an online course. Neither means that they’re much more than remotely acquainted with the CRO process.
Here are the facts. All CRO specialists and all CRO methods are not equal. It’s the difference between riding bumper cars at a theme park and buying a Maserati. One will entertain you (for a while); the other will get you quickly to where you want to go.All CRO specialists and all CRO methods are not equal. Click To Tweet
The bumper car CRO experts are typically either deceptive (like the telemarketer who promises to organic placement on the first page of Google’s search engine results) or dutifully established, but inexperienced, “full-service agencies.”
The latter type usually boasts of a “CRO specialist” on the team. That person’s primary purpose, though, is to enable the agency to add CRO to their long list of services. In the majority of cases, any initial positive results you’ll get from working with those legitimate, but past the initial tactics the full-service agency lacks the team, internal support, and focus to have a trusted and tested methodology for continued growth.
I’m not trying to be mean here, just stating the facts. I’ve seen it time and time again, and I hate seeing companies who need a life preserver put dollars and faith on something sure to sink as soon as there’s any weight applied.
The good news is that there are some very qualified CRO practitioners on the planet. That’s the direction I want to see you go. Rather than list names here, I’ll follow the “teach people how to fish instead of giving them fish” method and give you five key questions that will enable you to judge the real depth and capabilities of anyone claiming to know the ins and outs of conversion rate optimization.
So, what is the best conversion strategy? And is your current agency partner providing that strategy?What is the best conversion strategy? And is your current agency partner providing that strategy? Click To Tweet
Let’s take a look.
What does an effective conversion strategy look like?
At its core, conversion rate strategies that get the job done are based on a specific business-fitted framework or process aimed at driving more conversions.
1. Conversion rate optimization is not simply a tool.
Think of it this way: buying a hammer doesn’t make you a homebuilder. It’s possible to pass a licensing test for contractors, but lack the years of experience and on-the-job training required to make you a functionally qualified builder.
Conversion rate optimization is not a tactic. It’s not A/B testing, user testing, surveys, or “big data”. Yes, it’s easy to run an A/B test, but it’s not easy to do it well, and it can be downright tough to set up properly and interpret the results correctly.Yes, it's easy to run an A/B test, but it's not easy to do it well. Click To Tweet
QUESTION: Does the CRO specialist or agency you’re speaking or working with have a CRO framework to show and discuss with you, or are they totally focused on name dropping their arsenal of tools and tactics?
2. A smart conversion strategy aligns your website goals with your business goals.
You know your business goals, and “more revenue” isn’t the only concern. If your product line includes higher-end products or services with a longer sales cycle, for instance, you’ll have specific interim goals that guide prospects towards the sale.
Micro-conversions are a part of every sales journey, but they’re an essential part of the process for some companies. Other goals may include building a mailing list, developing product evangelists, or boosting the average order value.
QUESTION: Does the CRO specialist or agency you’re speaking or working with know what business goals are most important to your business? Have they even asked?
3. A smart conversion strategy understands your ideal consumer.
A site designed for everyone is designed for no one. Before you can tailor your website to your audience, you must deeply understand that audience. The right conversion rate optimization agency will not only want to know what you know about your customers but will help you get to know your audience even more. It’s an essential part of CRO.A site designed for everyone is designed for no one. Click To Tweet
QUESTION: Is the CRO specialist or agency you’re speaking or working with concerned about helping you understand your customers and prospects better? Do they have a proven strategy in place for being able to do that?
4. A smart conversion strategy makes the path from discovery to purchase crystal clear.
The most effective conversion strategy will study the clicks and movements of the ideal consumer to determine where the path to purchase is working and where it’s not.
You want to help every visitor reach their goals (even if they’re only researching for a future purchase) and position yourself as their best choice for current and future needs. You’ll also want to follow-up with your prospects, even if they don’t place an order on the first visit.
QUESTION: Does the CRO specialist or agency you’re speaking or working with have a strategy for identifying the specific pathways most in need of optimization? Ask them to carefully explain that process, and don’t accept “A/B Testing” as a satisfactory answer.
5. A smart conversion strategy makes consumer activity and feedback a central part of the optimization process.
Doing what the leaders in your niche do does not mean you’re optimizing your website. You don’t know what is working or not working for them. You could actually be hurting your site.Doing what the leaders in your niche do does not mean you’re optimizing your website. Click To Tweet
Nor does following best practices mean you’re optimizing your website. Best practices might make your website conform to basic usability standards, but they won’t help you tailor your website experience to your ideal consumer. Millennial females, for instance, will navigate a website much differently than baby boomer males.
QUESTION: Does the CRO specialist or agency you’re speaking or working with base their optimization tactics on best practices or do they hone in on the objective website data to determine how your visitors are engaging with your site?
CLOSING NOTE: If you’ll arm yourself with the five questions above and question your current or potential conversion rate optimization partner about them, you’ll be empowered to quickly evaluate how deeply the person you’re speaking with really understands conversion rate optimization.
This is advice you can literally take to the bank.
Save it. Share it. Use it.
Don’t Backtrack – Pick the Right CRO Partner and Get Results
Conversion rate optimization is the direct path to revenue growth. An effective conversion optimization strategy will return considerably more than it costs. But beware of the posers. An ineffective conversion optimization strategy can cost you dearly.
- Make sure your conversion optimization consultant or agency is truly capable of developing a sound conversion strategy tailored to your business.
- Ask the five questions above about their CRO philosophy, and have them show you results from previous customers – any company that has done conversion optimization well will be able to provide case studies and specific roadmap utilized to unlock the results.
Picking the right CRO partner is one of the most critical decisions a digital marketing manager can make. Take your time, and get it right.
Need help? Get in touch with The Good.
- 6 Simple Steps for Making the CRO Case to the Boss
- 9 Crucial Questions to Ask a Conversion Rate Optimization Agency
- Conversion Rate Optimization Essentials: The Master Guide
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About the Author
David Hoos is the former Director of Marketing at The Good, conversion rate experts who deliver more revenues, customers, and leads. David and the team at The Good have made a practice of advising brands on how to see online revenue double through their conversion rate optimization services.